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Phil Loadholt, Charlie Johnson a big part of Adrian Peterson's extraordinary season

The Minnesota Vikings' offensive linemen only needed to give Peterson a small hole. Both say Peterson's season has been fun to watch.
By Mike Baldwin Published: January 4, 2013

Minnesota Vikings offensive linemen Phil Loadholt and Charlie Johnson watched film in awe week after week.

Reviewing the previous game, they constantly were reminded if they gave Adrian Peterson any kind of hole it could lead to a game-breaking play.

Coming off a torn ACL, Peterson recorded one of the greatest seasons by a running back in NFL history, rushing for 2,097 yards, nine shy of Eric Dickerson's record.

Loadholt, a second-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2009, and Johnson, a sixth-round pick seven years ago out of Oklahoma State, helped lead the way. The Bedlam products once again will try to provide holes for Peterson Saturday when the Vikings play at Green Bay in a wild card game.

“It's so fun to watch him,” Johnson said in a phone interview with The Oklahoman. “It's always a joy when you make a block and he's taking it all the way. With a guy like Adrian, he just needs a little crease. Just give him a little space and he can make a lot of things happen.”

Peterson rushed for 210 yards a month ago in Minnesota's 23-14 loss at Green Bay.

In last week's 37-34 playoff clinching win over the Packers, Peterson ran for 199 yards, including a bruising 27-yard run that set up the game-winning field goal.

Green Bay's game plan will center around slowing down Peterson. But that was the game plan last week, when the Packers stacked the box with eight defenders.

“After that first game we didn't know if we could do some of the same things,” Johnson said. “But with Adrian, anything is possible. The good thing about playing someone on a short turnaround is you've pretty much seen everything they can do.”

What you usually don't see is a running back win a second rushing title and challenge the single-season rushing record after suffering a torn ACL. Peterson was injured on Christmas Eve 2011.

“I'll never forget after he hurt his knee last year against Washington, he said he'd be back for the start of the year,” Johnson said. “If you saw that look in his eyes you believed him. If Adrian says he's going to do something, you never doubt him.

“He's not like anybody else. He works harder than anyone I've ever played with. It's been so fun to watch him play like this after everything he dealt with.”

Less than nine months after having reconstructive surgery on his left knee, Peterson rushed for more than 150 yards seven times.

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